God told Solomon, “Ask for whatever you want,” and Solomon’s unselfish request for wisdom brought Solomon great favor, wealth and wisdom from God. (1 Kings 3:5-15).
Fast Forward: Solomon disobeys God’s command against marrying foreign wives and God speaks to Solomon again saying these wives will lead to the demise of Solomon’s faith and his earthly kingdom (1 Kings 11).
This time Solomon’s answer is not recorded, but we know he didn’t change.(1)
Scripture says, Solomon held fast to his wives in love (1 Kings 11:2). He loved his foreign wives more than he loved God.
He had more wisdom than anyone on earth (1 Kings 10:23), yet his love for women made him a fool.
This is a powerful message to us.
Would we do wrong things to please ourselves or someone else – spouse, parents, children, boss, friends?
If we choose to love anyone or anything more than we love God and His commands, we may “enjoy” our lives, but we will surely ruin them.
A regular examination of conscience is essential to growing in our faith and strengthening our relationship with Christ.
In their book The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You, Mike Aquilina and Regis J. Flaherty explain the importance of making an examination of conscience regularly. They discuss how there are many types of examination of conscience, including one said before the sacrament of Reconciliation, and an examination of conscience said every day.
St. Paul emphasized the importance of regular daily examination of conscience, especially 1 Corinthians. St. Ignatius Loyola crafted two types of examination of conscience to be said each day: the general examination and the particular examination. When you do a general examination, you review your day and reflect on what went right and what went wrong. In a particular examination, you can focus on one specific fault of that day and brainstorm how to avoid it in the future.
You can make these examinations of consciences in the morning or evening, or both.
Before Confession, we follow an examination of conscience in preparation to confess our recent sins and seek repentance. Before you make your confession, ask the Holy Spirit to help you feel sorry for your sins. You then spend some time reflecting on the sins you have committed since you last went to Confession. A good way to identify your sins is to follow a guide with questions to ask yourself about sins you may have committed, then writing your sins down before you enter the confessional. The Daily Roman Missal provides an in-depth list of questions to ask yourself before confession.
“Mary defends us from danger, she is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense of the way, and when we put not only our health in danger, but also our salvation. Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray.”
During Holy Week, we remember in a special way the last few days of Jesus’ life and ministry on Earth. On Palm Sunday, we recall His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem as a beloved prophet. On Holy Thursday, we remember the Last Supper. And on Good Friday, we remember the crucifixion.
But what about the other days? What did Jesus do in the beginning of the most important week of His life?
We know from scripture that on Monday of Holy Week Jesus drove the money lenders out of the temple. On Wednesday, as Jesus continued causing quite a stir in the city teaching the truth, Judas saw an opportunity to make some money and secretly went to the corrupt Pharisees with an offer to help them arrest Jesus in return for 30 pieces of silver (anywhere between $90 and $3,000 in today’s money). Because of Judas, the Wednesday of Holy Week is often called “Spy Wednesday”.
But on Tuesday of Holy Week, also known as “Fig Tuesday”, we remember the time Jesus cursed a fig tree…yes that’s right, He cursed a fig tree, but for a good reason. Jesus and His disciples were heading back into Jerusalem in the morning, and Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree on the side of the road, but when the group approached it, there was nothing on it but leaves. Jesus said to the tree, “May no fruit ever come from you again.” The disciples watched in wonder as the tree withered immediately. As we all would in that situation, the disciples pressed Jesus for an explanation.
Jesus answered, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith and do not waver, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” In this passage, Jesus reminds us to have such a strong faith that even the impossible seems possible. No doubt, Jesus was preparing His disciples for what was to come in the next few days. He knew that their faith was about to be challenged and they were going to have to start their mission of building the Church.
Today, let’s remember to have faith in the love and mercy of God as we continue through the last few days on our journey to Easter.
Then [Jesus] climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. —Mark 6:51
Storm winds were raging as Jesus’ disciples fought to keep their boat afloat. Jesus saw their struggle from afar and walked out to them on the wild waves. When they saw him, they were terrified, thinking he was a ghost on the stormy sea.
Jesus could have remained on the shore and commanded the winds to tame down. At the very least, quieting the sea first might have made his walking out there easier. But instead Jesus joined his disciples in the turbulence, took the most difficult route, and then climbed into the rocking boat to be with them. “Don’t be afraid,” he said before calming the storm.
In this story, Jesus demonstrates the heart of God that still comforts us today as we battle life’s storms. Jesus sees our struggles, comes near to us, and goes through the storm with us—whether or not he decides to calm or stop it.
The night before my doctor called to tell me that my cancer had returned, I had written a skit about this story. I soon realized that God had prepared me for what I was about to face, for he saw what was approaching even before the first cloud appeared.
Have you felt the presence of Jesus in your storm? Listen closely as he whispers to you, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Jesus, thank you that you don’t stand at a distance when we are struggling against the storms of life. Instead, you come before we even call. Please calm our fears as we cling to you. Amen. Today is one of a family of programs from:
Today we have the third Servant Song for our First Reading, which is a memorable set of striking images: “an open ear,” “a well-trained tongue,” that “knows how to speak to the weary.” “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard, I did not shield my face from buffets and spitting…I have set my face like flint.” (Isaiah 50:4–7). If this is ascribed to Jesus, as we Christians always have, then it clearly portrays one who is totally subject to the human condition, all the way to the bottom. He is a good listener and speaker, but in the end, his is an act of trust that another will “vindicate” him with utter confidence “that he will not be put to shame.” The “Suffering Servant” here portrayed is a human being just like you and me. He does not know the outcome ahead of time, or his confidence would be in himself and God to pull it off, which would then largely be a matter of the willpower of belief. Faith is so much more than strong willpower. In Matthew’s Gospel text, Jesus certainly appears to know ahead of time that Judas is going to betray him, and as much as tells him so. But he also appears to be saying that it is destiny or fate and “foretold by Scripture.” Is this foreknowledge the pattern of the Suffering Servant that he is referring to? We do not know for sure, although John sees it predicted in Psalm 41:10: “Even my closest and most trusted friend, who shared my table, rebels against me,” which he quotes (13:18). If this is the psalm Jesus is referring to, then the fuller meaning is clear: “Yahweh take pity on me, and raise me up!” (41:11). His victory is a dramatic reliance upon God, a mammoth leap of faith, not a superman stunt by a man who knows the full outcome ahead of time. We have done the believing community a major disservice by so emphasizing his divinity that his humanity was all but overridden. “He did not really have to live faith or darkness as we do, he knew everything from his youngest years,” most Christians naively assume. Yet Hebrews beautifully calls Jesus the “pioneer and perfector of our faith” (12:2). We cannot believe that his was a totally different brand of faith than the rest of humanity. Many scholars believe that it was only at the Resurrection that Jesus’ human mind and divine consciousness became one. Until then, he “was like us in all ways, except sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Now I believe you are much better prepared to walk through the sacred days ahead with a Jesus who shares, suffers, and trusts God exactly as you and I must learn to do. He walked in darkness too.
St. Benjamin (d. 424 A.D.) was a deacon martyred in Persia during a forty-year-long Christian persecution under two tyrannical Persian kings. He was imprisoned for a year due to his Christian faith and then released with the help of the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II. As a condition of his release he was ordered to no longer publicly proclaim his faith. Benjamin declared that it was his duty to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he refused to be silenced. He continued preaching Christ crucified, and, when word reached the king, he was arrested again. In response, Benjamin asked the king what opinion he would have of any of his subjects if they were to renounce their allegiance to the king and join in war against him; in the same way Benjamin could not renounce his allegiance to Christ. This comment enraged the king, and he ordered Benjamin to endure cruel tortures. Sharpened reeds were repeatedly jammed underneath his fingernails, toenails, and other tender parts of the body. He died when a knotted stake was jammed into his bowels. St. Benjamin’s feast day is celebrated on March 31st.
“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life [St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her]. I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome, but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory. And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him, because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will, fortified in the Blood of My Son. Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will, because it’s yours, given to you by Me. By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please. It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil, it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you. On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation. Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation, as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved. My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak. He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him. So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you. I want you to conquer, not to be conquered, and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”— St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
“The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation, because it gives us the Author of Grace; it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself.” — Pope St. Pius X